In February 1990 Nagendran Gulendran joined the staff of FRIENDS JOURNAL, coming to us from Surrey, England, where he had worked in the import and export business for various firms over a 12-year period. Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Gulen (as many know him) had worked there in the import business for 17 years before relocating to England. A Tamil, Gulen and his family found staying in their homeland of Sri Lanka increasingly difficult as persecution of his ethnic group and armed resistance grew. Gradually, his large family experienced a personal diaspora, with sisters and brothers in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. When Gulen joined us in 1990, he had just been reunited with his wife and daughters after a years-long separation, complicated by immigration issues. Lillian and George Willoughby had been instrumental in helping his wife and daughters immigrate to Philadelphia.
For more than 18 years, Gulen brought his prodigious gifts as a sales person to the JOURNAL, providing essential advertising revenue to support our ministry of the written word. Many, many Friends knew him well—his friendly calls, his easy laugh, his willingness to work with a customer to ensure satisfaction. At the JOURNAL our staff work exceptionally hard and support each other with great affection. Gulen suffered health problems for many years, but having mastered a British "stiff upper lip" during his sojourn in the UK (or perhaps having developed that quality in Sri Lanka), he rarely complained or gave evidence of his difficulties. Last October, while diligently calling his customers from our office, Gulen was stricken with severe pain and ended up in hospital and rehab for many weeks, which stretched into months. I am happy to report that he is slowly mending, and that he has taken a well-deserved retirement, in which we hope he will have the joy of visiting with his grandchildren and seeing some of his far-flung family. Gulen’s contribution over the years to the stability and well-being of the JOURNAL was enormous, and although I’ve thanked him privately, I want to do so publicly here. His ready laugh and sense of humor is much missed by our staff.
When it became clear that Gulen would not be returning to the JOURNAL, we launched a search for a new ad sales manager. We were pleased to receive applications from 61 highly qualified individuals and we interviewed six. I’m delighted to report that we have appointed Brianna Taylor as our new ad sales manager. Brianna started life as an Indiana Quaker (member of Clear Creek Meeting) but grew up primarily in Pittsburgh (Pa.) Meeting. A Political Science graduate of Haverford College, Brianna has experience in public relations and served as assistant manager and marketing manager of Sweetwater Farm, a bed and breakfast in Glen Mills, Pa. Brianna found our search ad on the JOURNAL‘s Facebook page and brings a level of enthusiasm and creativity to her new position that is very exciting. One of our staff mentioned after her interview with staff that "you can hear the smile in her voice." You can. If you are fortunate to speak with her on the phone, please welcome her to her challenging new position!